Society Essay, Research Paper
Fascism arose from frustration and despair in post war European society. Both Germany and Italy were humiliated by the peace treaties of Versailles and St Germain, and were in a state of economic and political instability. Germany was suffering from hyperinflation and the Great Depression. Germany and Italy were both questioning the stability of their governments as their inability to solve the current economic problems was becoming apparent. The fascists march on Rome allowed Mussolini to become Prime Minister and the elections during the Great Depression paved the way for Hitler to become a dictator. It was because of frustration and despair in society that the fascist movement was able to take control of Germany and Italy.
Fascism was a political movement, which originated in the early 20th century. It rejected ideas of individual freedom and equality and involved total government control over political, economic, cultural, religious and social activities. It required all power being placed into the hands of a dictator. There have been examples of fascist movements throughout Europe, specifically during the years from 1920 to the late 1930 s, the post war years.
The treaty of Versailles played a large role in the uprising of fascism in Germany and Italy. The treaty humiliated Germany and left them with a huge foreign debt. This caused Germany s society to plunge into a state of frustration and despair. Italy was also humiliated by the peace treaties. Being on the winning side Italy expected to receive much from the treaties. In retrospect Italy received very little which humiliated them and also sent them into a sate of frustration and despair. Both societies were angered by the results of the treaties and because of this the ideas of fascism were more readily accepted by the societies.
Germany had descended into a state of hyperinflation and was suffering form the Great Depression. In 1921 a loaf of bread cost 2.6 Marks, by November 1923 the price of a loaf of bread escalated to a ridiculous 470,000,000,000 Marks. Germany s Mark was becoming worth less than the paper it was being printed on. With these economic problems and a debt that could not be paid off for more than 50 years, it was inevitable that Germany would plunge into a state of frustration and despair. This frustration led the people to turn to the extreme ideas of the fascist and communist movements.
The growth of fascism in Germany and in Italy is revealed clearly by the election results after the First World War. In 1924 in Germany the fascist party, titled the Nationalist Socialists Party or Nazis, had a total of 6.6% of voter support for their party, ranking second to last in the Weimar elections. Then in 1932, only eight years later, they had 37.4% of voters in support, the highest amount of support received for any party in this eight-year election period (1924-32). Likewise, Mussolini s fascist party in Italy experienced a similar pattern in election results. In 1921 Mussolini s National Socialists party only had 35 seats out of 535 in parliament. Then towards the early 1930 s, support in parliament, as in Germany, had increased rapidly to allow Mussolini to take control. The amount of support received in the initial and final results indicate a very important link with the growth of fascism and Germany and Italy s economy. When the Great Depression accelerated circumstances of despair and frustration, support for fascism rose drastically.
By observing these results one can infer that there is a connection between the rise of fascist support and Germany and Italy s economic status. Specifically in Germany, if the economy was thriving, Nazi support dropped, if the economy was failing, Nazi support escalated. After Germany signed the armistice and was forced to agree with and uphold the Versailles peace treaty, the amount of economic sanctions placed upon her were great. Many of the clauses outlined in the treaty directly related to Germany and would burden her dearly. Likewise, Italy who had fought on the winning side in the war, losing over 600,000 Italian soldiers received few of the gains they had expected. As in Germany, the post-war period was one of turmoil and tension and dissatisfaction with the current government. After the affects of inflation in Germany and the unrest in Italy as well as the world depression, people of the time were questioning the current governments and asking what they were doing to fix the problem. They would have questioned whether the government of the day was doing their job and whether their current economic situation would improve. People of the time s biggest worries were whether they had employment and a stable economy on which they could rely. One can infer, that under economic circumstances that Italy and Germany faced, a fascist party would gain more support, as they supplied an alternative solution to what the current government was offering. When society felt despair and frustration, it was inevitable that they would look to this alternative.
In both Italy and Germany, the success of fascism gained further impetus from the charisma of Hitler and Mussolini as leaders of their respective parties. Hitler s ability to turn his audience into a state of frenzy was unequalled. He was an excellent public speaker and was able to use strategic methods to get his point across. Mussolini s methods were decisively more aggressive. He used demonstrations of strength and power within the party to get his message across. Both leaders were able to appeal to the public eye. The party s unparalleled organization left an unmistakable impression of the people. The societies were both in a state of frustration and despair so they were much easily persuaded by the charismatic leaders of the fascist movements in Italy and Germany.
Fascism most definitely arose during the interwar period, as a result of economic turmoil and social dislocation. The frustration and hopelessness that was caused by the social and economic problems in Germany, the Great Depression and the weaknesses in the current governments were the reasons that the fascist uprising was a success. Having an individual, who had an undeniable charisma and a party that had unparalleled organisation was why fascism succeeded in Germany and Italy during the 1920 s and late 1930 s.